Last Thursday, I took Coleman to get an overdue haircut before he and Kim hit the road to go to Mississippi for a few days.  There was no time to try to schedule an appointment, so I just took a chance and went to the mall.  We walked the entire length of the lower level without seeing a salon.  I checked the directory and map at the far end and noticed that a Regis salon was located directly overhead on the second level.   The name of the place immediately gave me comfort and confidence.  Let me explain.

Kim cut Coleman’s hair at home for years.  We had tried to take him to barbershops and salons a few times when he was younger, but the experience always frightened and unsettled him.  We don’t know if the smocks, scissors, and sterile looking environment reminded him of doctors’ offices and hospitals (which he had to visit with extreme regularity) or if the experience was just too far outside the box for his autism to handle.  Regardless of the reason for the discomfort, it wasn’t worth the anxiety for him or us, so Kim started cutting his hair.  Despite having no cosmotology training whatsoever, she did an admirable job with Coleman’s hair, although she regularly sliced her fingers to pieces with the sharp scissors.

About four years ago, I thought that it might be worth a shot to try a salon again, given that Coleman was now several years older than he was on our last attempt.  I had recently had my hair cut at Regis in Lewisville, Texas, near our home in Carrollton, and there was just something about the guy who had cut my hair that made me think he might do okay with Coleman.  I called Doug and explained Coleman’s autism, developmental delays, the fact that he was completely non-verbal, and his “history” of haircuts.  Doug didn’t hesitate in telling me to bring him on in.  It turned out to be wonderful.  Coleman was calm and comfortable, as was Doug.  Since Coleman tended to drop his head, I had to stand beside him with my hand under his chin for the entire cut, but that wasn’t a problem.  Doug and I just had to change positions about a dozen times during the cut.  It was like a well-choreographed “haircut dance”; but, it worked for three years, and Doug became our good friend.

So, that’s the back-story; now back to last Thursday.  Coleman and I walked into Regis here in Tulsa and I told the young lady at the counter that I needed someone to cut his hair.  She smiled, grabbed a pencil, looked down at the appointment book, and asked for his name.  “Coleman,” I said.  She repeated his name, began writing it down, then stopped and looked up.  She looked at Coleman, then looked at me and asked, “Are you Tim?”  It turns out that the young lady was Katie Spera, a member of the Broken Arrow church where I preach.  She hadn’t recognized me at first, probably because I was “out of context” and “out of uniform” (I had on jeans and flip-flops), but she knew who Coleman was!  And she knew who Coleman’s father was!  Katie got us hooked up with Sarah.  I quickly taught her the “Coleman Dance” and we had another great haircut experience.

In 1998, when Coleman was just 5 years old, a friend of ours at the Walnut Hill church in Dallas was riding in a car with her young grandson.  Much of the radio news was about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and our friend became concerned about what “little ears” might be picking up from the discussion of the sex scandal.  She asked her grandson, “Do you know who the President is?”  “Uh, yeah,” he said in a rather exasperated voice.  “Coleman’s daddy,” he continued, as if everyone knew that.  He didn’t know my name, but he definitely knew Coleman’s. 

Coleman has touched and influenced a multitude of lives in his 17 years on this earth.  I’m just proud to be known as his Dad. 

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